Week 24: God Who Knows the End From the Beginning

Monday: Genesis 24

Tuesday: Matthew 24

Wednesday: Esther 1

Thursday: Acts 24

Friday: Genesis 24, Matthew 24, Ester 1, Acts 24

Reflections

Monday, Genesis 24

How often am I tempted to lower my standards, my expectation of what God will do because it just doesn’t seem possible? But Abraham is unflinching. Surely by now, he knows God will indeed provide exactly what he and his family need. Surely by now, I should, too.

Abraham’s trust seems to be contagious, because his servant, who doubted just verses before now prays a very specific prayer to the Lord. And God answers, even before He was finished speaking. We shouldn’t be surprised. This is always who God is – providing exactly what we need. Now, I am not saying He will always give us exactly what we ask for, and I am not saying He will always do it instantly as He did in this story. But what would it take for us to have the trust of Abraham, the trust of the servant, to lay it all out there to God believing He hears and He will give in accordance to His will? I like that God does not just provide for Abraham and Isaac in this story, but for the servant as well. He gives the servant what he needs to serve his master. And He does the same for us.

What do you need to ask God for more of in order to serve Him well?

Meditate on Philippians 4:19 today, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.”

Tuesday, Matthew 24:

“The one who stands firm to the end will be saved,” Jesus says. What an amazing picture, the Gospel of the Kingdom going out to all nations. It both fills me with awe and reminds me: we are not done yet. We are not done preaching the Gospel to each other and to the world. With our words, with our lives, with our love. May we stand firm to the end!

Who can you share the Good News with today?

Lord Jesus, make us ready. Make us a people standing firm in Your love, Your strength, Your grace. When You come on that day we have all confidence that we will see Your radiance and Your glory and that You will gather us to Yourself. Oh, what joy! Lord, may we not grow weary. May we not grow lukewarm in our love and passion for You. Make us faithful and wise servants until that day when every knee bows before You. Hallelujah!

Wednesday, Esther 1

A.W. Tozer wrote, “Our choices reveal the kind of person we are, but there is another side to the coin. We may, by our choices, also determine what kind of person we will become.” This gives great hope to me that my past mistakes and choices do not have to define me. I doubt Queen Vashti understood the far-reaching consequences of her choice not to come when her husband summoned her. The author doesn’t really reveal her motive. Maybe it was rebellion or defiance; maybe it was a conviction not to be paraded around for show. Either way, her choice set into motion a series of events that would alter the future for many.

Our choices have weight. They have consequences. And today, with the help of the Holy Spirit in Christ, we have the opportunity to determine what kind of person we will become, one small choice at a time.

What choices lie in front of you today?

Ask the Holy Spirit to lead all your steps with wisdom and discernment.

Commit James 1:5 to memory over the next several days, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

Thursday, Acts 24:

There are times when we are tempted to manipulate the truth or our circumstances because we don’t quite trust that God will come through for us. But Paul tells the truth when falsely accused, trusting God alone to be His protector. For years, he refrains from offering bribes, using flattery, or altering the truth even a little bit because He knows that God is His defense.

Is there an area of your life where you feel like you need to come to your own defense?

Have you ever been tempted to manipulate the truth, bribe, or coerce to ensure a certain outcome?

Let’s ask God today to increase our faith in Him alone. Only HE can secure our future and our eternity.

Friday Reflections

In Isaiah 46:10, God declares that He “makes known the end from the beginning.” He says, “My purpose will stand… what I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.” I have been thinking about this a lot lately, especially as we have passed through several seasons of lots of unknown. It seems we are always either at the beginning of something or right in the middle.

There is a reason that Paul and the writer of Hebrews repeatedly refer to life as a race, a journey requiring perseverance, strength, and above all, the help of the Spirit. But when we dedicate our next steps, our choices, our decisions, our very lives to the Lord, He will give us what we need. He will equip us for what is ahead, all the while holding the end in His loving hands.

Beloved, if you are still reading this, it’s not the end yet.

God isn’t finished yet.

I think of Paul waiting for two years in prison, having already received the promise that he would testify about Christ in Rome. I wonder if there were days when he wondered how he would get there. I think of Abraham, insistent that God will bring Isaac a spouse from his own country and family. I think of myself in my own seasons of uncertainty, when I cannot yet see what God might be trying to accomplish, when it doesn’t quite appear like God’s plans, in fact, are for my good.

I can sit in my own “middle” places and look at my little tribe feeling at a loss, overwhelmed, unequipped. But God knows the end from the beginning. And if this is the place He has called me, if these are the people He has given me, if this is the thing He has put in front of me, He will equip me for the next step, the next right choice, even if the path ahead is hazy.

In the midst of a very dark day recently, a dear friend prayed, “God, help us remember that it ends with us with You.” I clung to that phrase for days.

It ends with us with Him.

Paul can tell the truth because he knows where it will end for him. Abraham can trust that God will fulfill His promise to make him a great nation, because he knows where it will end for him.

And we can stand firm because we know where it will end for us.

Even in the middle of the darkest circumstances, even when we cannot see ahead of us on a winding and hazy path, even when it looks like no good could possibly come from this, we can trust, we can hope, we can believe. Because we know what awaits us. We know that this is not all there is.

We know this all ends with us with Him.

Week 23: God Who Prepares a Home For Us

Monday: Genesis 23

Tuesday: Matthew 23

Wednesday: Nehemiah 13

Thursday: Acts 23

Friday: Genesis 23, Matthew 23, Nehemiah 13, Acts 23

Reflections

Monday, Genesis 23:

Abraham calls himself a foreigner and a sojourner. Even after many years of living in Canaan, it isn’t fully “home.” 

Abraham knows a greater truth, that he “looks forward to the city with foundations, a city whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:9-10). And even as Abraham looks forward to his secure eternity, he lives in such a way that the people around him clearly see and know that he has a special relationship with God, that He has been set apart by Him.

We, too, are foreigners in this land. We will never be fully at home on this earth, and we shouldn’t be. We were designed for that same city as Abraham, the one where we get to behold the face of God forever. Does this change the way we live? I sure hope so. I pray that like Abraham, all those around us, whether they know our God or not, know that we love Him by the way that we live.

Is your focus today on your earthly home or your eternal one?

How does shifting your gaze to Heaven, our forever home, impact the way you live today?

Tuesday, Matthew 23:

There is firm instruction here from Jesus that cannot be ignored. I am convicted that so often I seek my own recognition, my own respect, my own honor, rather than His. I am humbled today by this call to exalt our Lord and our neighbor above ourselves. And, I am in awe of His mercy! Even in the midst of a strong warning, He longs to gather His people – us! – to Himself! He longs for us much like a mother hen desires to gather her chicks to herself and protect them underneath the safety of her wings.

His love for us, even while we were still sinners, is far beyond our comprehension.

Are there areas in your own life where you are seeking your own recognition, glory, or respect?

How can you make a conscious decision to value others above yourself?

How can you elevate the importance of God and promote His glory and respect?

Wednesday, Nehemiah 13:

Again and again we watch Israel fall back to her old patterns of sin. I wish I couldn’t relate. Does Nehemiah feel guilty as he catches his people in sin? Does he feel responsible? His plea is that God would remember him and show mercy as he reinstates the rules and repents on behalf of his community. But just as in yesterday’s text, there is God’s mercy, even amidst the direst of situations.

In verse 2, in parenthesis and easy to miss, it says this: “Our God, however, turned the curse into a blessing.” This is who He always is. This is what He always does. We will see Him save Israel time and time again though she continues to sin. And it is true for us, too, though we mess up and turn away and do the unspeakable, God in His mercy reaches for us, blesses us, gathers us to Himself. He really does make beauty from ashes. He does not forsake His people, nor will He ever.

Is there a habitual sin that you need to repent of today? 

Lord, have mercy on us according to your great love.

Take heart, dear one. God’s desire is still to bless you, still to call you into a relationship with Him.

Thursday, Acts 23:

In the midst of what probably looks and feels like the end, God assures Paul that it isn’t. And as we have seen over and over again in Genesis and throughout the rest of Scripture, when God promises, He keeps His promise. Paul will continue to testify about Jesus. And even when it looks bleak, God continues to equip Paul – giving him all he needs to accomplish His purposes, thwarting all the plans of Paul’s enemies (even at the last minute!), pouring out His favor through unlikely officials.

The same is true for us today! He has purpose for us and nothing – not persecution or opposition, not sickness or broken relationships or lost jobs or deep hurt – will stand in His way.

What in your life seems to be keeping you from what God has called you to?

Spend some time in prayer over that today. Believe that He who promised will accomplish His purposes in your life!

Friday Reflections

If I am honest, “home” is a topic that causes both my greatest delight, and over the years, more than a bit of angst. I think we are designed to long for a home – a safe place, a shelter from the harsh world, a place where we are nourished and comforted and can grow with those we love.

All my favorite memories are of “home” – whether gathered around my parents’ kitchen island laughing with family, or walking through the front doors of my own home to my children’s mess and chaos and laughter. I can imagine our children, crowded on the couch for a movie, holding hands in prayer around our giant farm table, running through the kitchen as I stir a big pot of soup for dinner, swinging from the trees in the backyard. I hope and pray their favorite memories will be of home, too – their favorite meal, the smoke of a bonfire on a hot, July evening, laughter too late into the night.

I love spending time and intentionality making our home comfortable and functional, a safe space that people feel welcome and safe, a place that even our grown children will want to come back to for years to come.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with that; we are called to love our people and this is one way we do it.

Yet over the years, as my children have grown and many of them have moved halfway across the world to a foreign country, as my parents have aged and family events have taken place far from where I live, I have waffled a bit. Is this truly where we should be making our home?

I resonate with Abraham when he calls himself a foreigner and a sojourner, even after 60 years of living in Canaan. No matter how long I live in Uganda, there is always more to learn, I am always just barely scratching the surface of cultural understanding. And yet, when we visit the United States, we feel like foreigners there, too, hardly knowing how to keep up with a culture we have grown unaccustomed to. There is a sigh of relief when we walk back through our own front door and crawl into our own beds, but there is always a twinge of sadness about leaving our parents, brothers, sisters, and daughters on the other side of the ocean.

When I am here, there is always a subtle longing for that home, our people. And when we spend time there, there is always a longing for this home and all the people we adore in this place. The more He moves us around this world, the more and more I know the truth that I think Abraham, Nehemiah, the disciples, and Paul knew deeply – home isn’t really a place we will ever find here.

Hebrews 11 says Abraham went out, “not knowing where he was going.” By faith, it says, he went to a foreign land and lived in tents, “because he was looking forward to the city whose designer and builder is God.” It continues, “[Abraham] acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on this earth”…”they desired a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God for He has prepared for them a city.”

            He has prepared for us a city.

            He has prepared for us a home.

Abraham knows it as he humbly asks the Hittites to sell him a piece of land on which to bury his wife. Nehemiah knows it as he rebuilds a city and then begs the Lord to have mercy as its people continue in rebellion. Paul knows it as he declares that to live is Christ and to die is gain. The rest of the kings and prophets mentioned in Hebrews 11 know it as they endure all persecution and hardship “so that they might rise again to a better life.”

So friends, make your home. Fill it with memories and the people you love. Fill it with praise and laughter, things that are so glorifying to the Lord. But hold all loosely. And when your kids move out or your besties move away, when you take a new job or move to a new city, when you are just feeling a bit displaced even in your own home, be reminded: we are citizens of a better country, a heavenly one.

Let’s be present to wherever we find ourselves while remembering that we are truly just passing through, on our way to that glorious place that will be forever.

Read Hebrews 11 over the weekend and be filled with encouragement by all those who have gone before us, who have forsaken all else to race toward this Heavenly home.

Shift your eyes to Heaven, beloved. This is all temporary, but our life with Him is forever.